Considering Aston Martin finished seventh in the 2022 F1 constructors’ championship, to finish third at the season-opening race for this year is a staggering improvement.
F1 is mostly about the car and not enough credit is given to the engineers and staff who create the machines in which the drivers go racing.
One name that will have been mentioned though is Dan Fallows, Aston Martin‘s technical director and one of the best technical people in F1.
Who is Dan Fallows?
Dan Fallows began his career in F1 in 2002 for Jaguar as one of their aerodynamic engineers, before a short spell at Dallara, and a return to Milton Keynes when Red Bull took over Jaguar in 2005.
Fallows officially joined Red Bull in 2006 and has, quite literally, been watching over Adrian Newey‘s shoulder.
Newey is widely regarded among the greatest F1 designers ever but it was Fallows‘ aerodynamic skills which also saw Red Bull become a force to be reckoned with in 2009 when Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber both won races.
Then came a period of dominance, although they were pushed in 2010 and 2012, as Red Bull won four drivers’ and constructors’ titles in a row.
During that time, Vettel became the youngest F1 world champion ever and set a new record for the most consecutive wins in a sport when he had nine victories on the spin in 2013.
Although Red Bull struggled in the early stages of the turbo-hybrid era, mostly due to their power unit deficit to Mercedes, they still won races every year, apart from 2015.
Daniel Ricciardo won three Grand Prix in 2014 and Max Verstappen‘s maiden victory at the 2016 Spanish GP saw him become the youngest winner in F1 history.
Verstappen has won a race in every season since then and Red Bull broke Mercedes‘ dominance, albeit controversially, when the Dutchman won the 2021 drivers’ title.
Fallows joins Aston Marin
Throughout 2021, there was talk that Fallows was to leave Red Bull, with the Milton Keynes-based team seemingly not wanting to let their top aerodynamics man go.
Fallows had a six-month period of gardening leave so joined Aston Martin in April 2022. At that time, the Silverstone-based team had one of the worst weekends in recent memory after a nightmare Australian GP.
A b-spec car in Barcelona, which Fallows likely had little input on, saw Aston Martin improve throughout the season but they still finished in seventh, despite scoring the same points as Alfa Romeo. Valtteri Bottas‘ fourth place at Imola gave the latter sixth place on countback.
The 2023 car was the first machine Fallows has had a significant say on and the signing of Alonso has only added to the excitement.
Why are Aston Martin so quick?
The new Aston Martin looks very easy to drive, a trait of most Red Bull cars over the last 15 years in F1, so Fallows‘ aerodynamic intelligence will have played a key role here.
It’s also easy on its tyres and, in the hands of Alonso, who has showed he was excellent at handling the Pirelli rubber during his career, that means they will be a big threat on race days.
Credit must go to deputy technical director Eric Blandin, engineering director Luca Furbatto and others to create a car that has broken the stranglehold of the big three.
Since 2017, only Racing Point, which were taken over by Aston Martin, have been able to mix it with the top teams when they had a great start to the 2020 season but didn’t take full advantage of their pace.
What can Aston Martin do in 2023?
It’s very early days and we have only seen the cars on one track, the Bahrain International Circuit, so we need to see how Aston Martin fare on other circuits.
One factor in their favour is they will have much more wind tunnel time than Red Bull, Ferrari and Mercedes.
Due to F1‘s sliding wind tunnel time scale, Aston Martin will have 37 percent more aerodynamic testing time than Red Bull, which is also thanks to the latter breaking the budget cap regulations in 2021.
Ferrari will have 25 percent less and Mercedes 20 percent less than Aston Martin. If, and it’s a big if, Aston Martin have a sniff of a chance to take the title, the second half of the season could see them make a late championship charge. They have a car which can win F1 races in 2021.